Media critic

Cable news hosts are altogether too aware that the footage of students, single-file, parading away from school buildings; the swarming of police officials; the ubiquity of emergency vehicles; the speculation about the suspect — all of it has become far too familiar in a country that has already tallied 18 school shootings this year alone.

All that familiarity appeared to descend on CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd as he spoke with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer in the 5 p.m. hour, as the network was going wall-to-wall on the school shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Blitzer asked Mudd what was going through his head as “someone who used to work at the FBI.” “You think it’s antiseptic,” started Mudd, who also worked at the CIA in a long government career.

After talking about his experience with a terrorist, Mudd turned toward the situation in Florida, saying, “A child of God is dead. Can not we acknowledge in this country that we cannot accept this? I can’t do it, Wolf, I’m sorry. I can’t do it,” said Mudd, sobbing and turning away from the camera. The analyst has a history of not holding back when he appears on CNN.

Perhaps not expecting his counterterrorism analyst to react quite this way, Blitzer said: “All right, we’re going to get back to you, but you’re obviously, this is so emotional. Unfortunately it happens all too often, and, as a result, people say we’ve got to learn some lessons. Unfortunately lessons are never, never learned.”

Contributors and analysts are hired by cable networks to provide reasonable, articulate and powerful commentary on the events of the day. In his own way, that’s exactly what Mudd did here. There’s no rule in broadcasting that talent must keep their composure as the lives of our children fall to bullets in their schools. Mudd later appeared to discuss law-enforcement aspects of the story.